Buffalo Bills: Let’s Talk About That 2017 Offensive Line

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Richie Incognito
ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Richie Incognito /

What was supposed to be a strength of the Buffalo Bills this year has been a notable weakness during the pre-season. What happened to the offensive line?

Nobody was expecting a perfect offensive game last night from the Buffalo Bills against the Philadelphia Eagles. They’re still installing a new offense and are down a top receiver in Jordan Matthews. Going up against the furious blitzing of a Jim Schwartz defense won’t help either.

What a lot of fans weren’t expecting was for the first-team offense to be so overmatched. The headlines this morning focused on Tyrod Taylor’s poor performance, but another thing that needs to be talked about is that offensive line.

Going into 2017, the O-line was expected to be one of the strengths of the Buffalo Bills. It’s a big reason why they led the league in rushing the past two years. With a line-up of Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller and Jordan Mills, you’d at least have a good offensive line that’s capable of being great.

With the idea that 2017 draft pick Dion Dawkins could replace the inconsistent Mills this year, you could expect the offensive line to maybe take a step up during the season.

Now, I don’t think that’s happening this year. Glenn is nursing a foot injury, so he didn’t play on Thursday, and Seantrel Henderson took his place. Vlad Ducasse was in at guard, despite being a clear downgrade over incumbent starter John Miller. Eric Wood is still coming back from a leg injury. And Jordan Mills was still there, struggling at right tackle.

Let’s take a step back here and add a disclaimer. This is a new scheme that offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is implementing; it’s going to take time for it to take effect. Not to mention the Bills, with their love for competition, have been mixing and matching O-line players all training camp and preseason.

So just because it’s horrible now, doesn’t mean it’s going to be an awful train wreck during the regular season.

With that being said, the clock is ticking, and fast.

Next weeks’ preseason game is against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that prides itself on having a strong defense. The third practice game is usually the one where the offensive starters play and show the most; now they need to start playing and showing.

The Bills’ starters have played two preseason games now and still haven’t reached the end zone. That needs to change next week, and it’s going to start with better protection.

I’m not here to defend Tyrod Taylor. He had some awful moments last night and needs to work on throwing with timing. But putting him out there with a swiss cheese O-line with a bunch of slot receivers is setting him up to fail.

So, how can they hope to turn this offensive line around?

1. Get your starting line set: Sean McDermott loves competition. I’m sure if he had it his way, everybody on this Earth would compete for everything. But it’s time to stop mixing and matching your starting five. Get your starters down, and throw them out there in time for preseason game week three.

That means the Vlad Ducasse-as-starter experiment is over. Can him, and throw in John Miller, who’s still pretty good. At least then you can focus on the Glenn-Incognito-Wood-Miller-Mills combo.

Obviously, it’s hard to do that when you don’t know if Glenn is still available, that leads to point number two…

2. Find A Decent Replacement for Cordy Glenn: This can either be accomplished with Dion Dawkins or a free agent. Just whoever can hold down the fort, cause Seantrel Henderson clearly can’t. It’s becoming painful to watch him get clowned on so many plays, leading to Tyrod Taylor getting sacked or throwing a pick.

The intention is to throw Dawkins at right tackle to take over the starting job for Mills, but right now he needs to be played as an emergency left tackle. Throw in the suspension with his poor play, and Henderson just shouldn’t be on this team.

But if Cordy Glenn is healthy, then Mills should be in the conversation for something else…

3. Get Somebody, Anybody, to Replace Jordan Mills: He’s not as bad as Henderson, but it’s not fun watching defensive ends whip him on numerous plays. You know that Dawkins is meant to take over eventually, but Glenn’s injury struggles are delaying that.

So the next few weeks will be important, and Buffalo needs to watch the waver wire for any offensive linemen that can be at least competent. They might not be incredible, but the Bills need to keep taking swings on free agents while Dawkins plays left tackle.

In Conclusion…

The Buffalo Bills need to set their starting offensive line quick and need to decide if Jordan Mills is a part of it. They also need to determine if Cordy Glenn can be healthy, and if not, whether or not Dion Dawkins can replace him.

Next: Buffalo Bills: Would McDermott react to National Anthem protests?

What do YOU think of the Bills’ offensive line situation? Leave your comments below!